8 Best Business Books for Women

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You’ve got great business ideas. And you have the skills to implement them. But do you know where to start and how to get your ideas heard? It's time to put your business plans into action. Or maybe it's time to learn how to turn your hobby into a business and be your own boss. This carefully curated list of eight books every business woman should read will help you kick butt at whatever career ventures you desire.

Best Business Books for Women

Fast Forward

How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose

by Melanne Verveer and Kim K Azzarelli

Fast Forward is a lot to take in. It is both a history of women's roles in the U.S. and a toolkit for finding meaning, connection, and, yes, power in today’s world. But it’s a worthy read. This book combines hard history with anecdotal evidence of why women’s voices matter in politics and business. The authors give women not only tips to achieve personal success, but they also show how to help all boats rise on the tide of women in power. Buy Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose from Amazon now.

Lean In

Women, Work and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg

We’ve heard a lot about Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s controversial book Lean In in recent years. This book challenges women to be leaders in their own lives and in business. Sandberg highlights women's needs and strengths in the workplace. She faced criticism because some of her recommendations only applied to wealthier women. Not all women can afford quality childcare so they can return to their career after becoming mothers. But she brought to light many subtle issues about women in the workplace that make Lean In essential reading for both men and women. Buy Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead today.

Own It

The Power of Women at Work

by Sallie Krawcheck

Building on Sandberg's book is Own It. This guides is written by Sallie Krawcheck, cofounder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform designed to help women reach their financial goals. Krawcheck asserts that the business world is, in fact, changing in such a way that women's inherent strengths will be in high demand. While not so much a how-to as a I “how-I-did-it,” the book gives some great tips on asking for raises and claiming – even boasting about – credit for achievements. Go get a copy of Own It: The Power of Women at Work of your own.


by Sophia Amoruso

#Girlboss provides motivation for Millennial women in business. Author Sophia Amoruso started her retail company, Nasty Gal, with a hernia and a great sense of style. After a string of questionable judgment calls in her teens, Amoruso's first big move into adulthood was holding down a job long enough to get the health insurance she needed to treat the aforementioned hernia. During her recuperation, she began selling vintage clothing on eBay. She then turned a love of vintage clothing and fashion into a multi-million dollar business in just a matter of a few years. Amoruso did all of this without following the traditional advice of using other people’s money to grow her business. This business memoir takes the reader through the good, the bad, and the seriously ugly parts of her business story. Purchase #Girlboss like the boss you are.

Work Pause Thrive

How to Pause for Parenthood without Killing Your Career

by Lisen Stromberg

What if you want to lean back into the business world after taking a career break? Many Fortune 500 companies are developing programs for “Relaunchers.” Even law firms are reaching out to women who left law to raise children, deal with aging parents or just take a break. Work Pause Thrive by Lisen Stromberg reminds us that many accomplished women have taken a break from their careers and later leapt back in with both feet. Even Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor left her law practice for five years to care for her children early in her career.

Stromberg laments the “leaky pipeline” that results when valuable women leave the workforce and don't come back. The journalist/consultant points out that we need women in leadership positions to help change the business structure to better accommodate women and families. Don't put off your relaunch any longer! Head over to Amazon to get Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career now.

Work Pause Thrive

In the Company of Women

Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs

by Grace Bonney

Grace Bonney, the creator of Design Sponge, wrote In the Company of Women. It features a series of interviews and photos of women business owners across a wide array of primarily creative industries. From one-woman design shops to multi-hyphenate media moguls, the subjects offer inspiring stories and honest advice for entrepreneurs. It’s not so much an instruction manual as it is an inspiration board.

Attractive women with toned arms and high heels grace the covers of many business books for women. Even the millennial rebel #Girlboss sports a plunging neckline with her fierce stance. (Although the author says in the book, she’s all about dressing for herself, not for other people.) In the Company of Women is a nice break from that mold, showing women of all ages, races, and styles, without a stiletto in sight. Buy In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs and you just may catch some of these women's enthusiasm and creativity.

Boss Bitch

A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career

by Nicole Lapin

I hate the b-word. I don’t want to embrace it. But a lot of successful women are owning this term. Despite the off-putting title, Boss Bitch by Nicole Lapin is one of the few business books for women that addresses the nuts and bolts of starting a business. It's not the main focus of the book – in fact it only appears three-quarters of the way through – but it's such a rarity it deserves mention. Lapin writes as though she's dishing over a two martini lunch. It's a fun read, but TV news anchor and business woman does add some substance that is lacking in other business books for women. If you don't mind being addressed by the b-word, you can take some solid information away from this one. Buy your copy of Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career.

Killing It!

An Entrepreneur's Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart

by Sheryl O'Loughlin

So you've made it through all the history, the philosophy, the memoirs, the soul-searching, the empowerment, and you're ready to start your business. There has to be a guide out there to walk you through it. Indeed there is. Sheryl O'Loughlin's Killing It! is one of the best business books for women out there. In it, the former CEO of Clif Bar gives you the practical advice you need regarding business formation, taxes, and pitfalls. O'Loughlin also addresses some of the most common problems related to women running their own businesses, and tells you how to face and fix them. Get business savvy by buying Killing It: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart today.

Killing It ~ Best Business Books for Women

My thoughts on business books for women

As a serial entrepreneur, I've read numerous business books over the years and learned something new from each of them. In reviewing the current batch of business books for women, though, I've found something astounding. Most of them are more about relationships and being liked than they are about actual business. Wow, there's a lot of books about how to be powerful without being labeled a bitch, or about embracing your inner bitch. Thankfully, this list of business books for women includes the notable exceptions.

Which of these business books for women appeals most to you? Do you have any additional titles you love? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Paige Conner Totaro, The Startup Travel Mama

Paige Conner Totaro likes to help make dreams come true, whether helping people start businesses or helping people plan the trip of a lifetime. She made her own dream come true by taking a trip around the world with her husband and twin daughters in 2012 and is always planning the next adventure in travel or business (or both). Paige was a founder of Misra Records and Unquote Travel, a founding board member of the arts organization, Transformer, in Washington, DC; and a longtime board member and director of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts. Paige is a fan of Scandinavian design, Ethiopian food, Arab hospitality, Japanese vintage stores, Brazilian music and Thai beaches, but also American craft beer, garage rock and roller derby. Can you see why her travel company is called All Over the Map? Connect with Paige on Instagram at @alloverthemap.

  1. Annemarie LeBlanc says

    I am interested with that book, Work Pause Thrive. It is difficult to excel in your career without having to sacrifice family time. I think this is a going to be a great read.

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      Amen! There’s a lot of momentum around “relaunching” women into the workplace after a break. Many of the top legal and financial firms are realizing there’s great untapped potential there.

  2. Michelle Waller says

    This is a great list of books. I have read a few of these, but haven’t heard of most. I bookmarked this to read these later.

  3. Carol Cassara says

    I would love to read some of these books. I think it’s awesome to be able to get some influence from fellow women. Especially now that I’m starting my new business.

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      Good luck with your new business! See if you can find a women’s networking group in your area. They offer regular meetups where women business owners can share information and help each other to succeed. I’ve found them to be really helpful and inspiring.

  4. Amanda Love says

    It’s good to have business books that help empower women and make them feel more confident in the field that they’re in. These sound really helpful.

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      Yep. I think women often underplay their strengths. But we need more women in business and women at the top!

  5. Brianne says

    This is such a great round up of books! I love reading about women in business!

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      Thanks, Brianne! And be sure to let me know if you have favorites that I didn’t mention. I’m always looking for more inspiration.

  6. Our Family World says

    Books like these are a favorite read for me. I like self help and inspirational books. There is still so much to learn even if you think you are already successful.

  7. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place says

    I’ve started a new lineup of books I want to read right now and this is a nice list. I need to read more business books!

  8. Beeb ashcroft says

    I never think to read a book to improve my business. This list has motivated me to try some new things. Great post!

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      I think we can always learn something from these books. We don’t have to agree with them, but it’s a good idea to look at what others are doing to see if it sparks ideas for our own businesses.

  9. I feel like these are the books I need to really push myself into my full potential. Adding them all to my summer reading list.

  10. Lisa Favre says

    I have heard how incredible Lean In is. One of my friends read it and she is a finance major and she absolutely loved it!

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      It got a lot of flack when it first came out, but I found a lot of good information, advice, and inspiration in it.

  11. I love having books around that inspire me. This list of Best Business Books for Women really looks like a great collection to add to my bookshelf. I will have to pick up at least two for now!

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      And be sure to ask your tax adviser if you can deduct the cost of these books as business expenses. 🙂

  12. I see so many people have heard of it. I haven’t but now I am curious to read and see it. 🙂

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      I actually learned about it from my teenage daughter, who was a fan of the company, long before I knew anything about it.

  13. I added Girl Boss to my Netflix lineup, but didn’t realize there was a book too. I’ll be reading that first before watching the series.

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      I’m really looking forward to watching the series. She’s got a great story, warts and all.

  14. Sarah @ The Outside Family says

    What a great collection of books. I really want to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book.

  15. These sound like great books for when you need inspiration. I would like to read several of them.

    • Paige Conner Totaro says

      I really recommend reading a few of these per year to make sure you are up-to-date on current business trends.

  16. These sound like they’d be incredibly helpful. There is always going to be something new to learn so it’s good to keep reading!

  17. KIm Croisant says

    I have a friend who is reading “Boss Bitch” and she says it’s the bomb. I’m next!!

  18. Colleen Lanin says

    These all sound like great reads! I think it’s important to constantly improve yourself and your approach to business.

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